An inexpensive African gin with a tropical flair which mixes well.
Made in: Durban, Natal, South Africa by Glendale Distillery.
Base: Cane Spirit
Copper pot still
43% alcohol/86 proof
Botanicals 5: Juniper, Orange Peel, Cassia Bark (Chinese Cinnamon) Angelica root, and Coriander seed.
Style: London Dry.
This is a gin which has been made by the same family for several generations, although it was rebranded just over decade ago. It’s based on a traditional London Dry style gin, which is no surprise as the master distiller Derrick Stretton, is the son of an acclaimed gin distiller from England.
Make no doubt, this isn’t a high end gin, it’s a low cost bottle, with some rough edges, but which is better at what you’d expect at this price point. It’s also a curiosity as only a handful of gins from anywhere in Africa have made it to the shores of he US. This is one of the most imbibed gins in South Africa, but I can see it making a splash here in the US due to price point and the fact it’s a very drinkable product.
This is London dry, with some tropical notes and it’s unique South African character. That character lends itself more to gin and tonics, fruit forward, and sweeter drinks - it’s really a gin for mixing, not for drinking straight, or on the rocks. Yes, you certainly could, but it’s a bit harsh that way.
The nose is almost purely juniper and citrus with just the tiniest hints of vegetal/herbal character, perhaps just a bit more lemony than your more traditional London dry.
On the tongue, the inherent hint of sweetness left as a residue of the sugarcane spirit the gin is distilled from transforms the gin into something different, where the lemon balances the bitterness of the juniper and angelica, rather than complimenting it. The cassia root throws more of a peppery note, and some heat to the aftertaste and finish.
It's mouthfeel is velvety, and oily, but the cane spirit gives some burn, especially if you taste it neat.
As a mixing gin this is a good alternative to Gordon’s or Beefeater and it does well with tonic due to its lemony nature and inherent tang of sweetness.
In a martini, it was well balanced, but my favorite way of drinking it was with some lemon, muddled mint and Thai basil. For that very reason it should do very well in drinks like a Tom Collins.
For an inexpensive gin this is a winner. It’s not perfect, it’s a little too astringent, and a little too harsh for a straight drinking gin, but as a mixer it’s rather good. It doesn’t compare to Bombay or Tanqueray as a mixing gin, and it’s not as balanced as either, but the flavor profile is different enough that many will find enjoyment in drinks made with this as the base.
Overall rating: 78. Solid choice with an overall London dry flavor, but with a touch of South African flavor and a hint of the tropics.
What you need to know about reviews: All my reviews are my honest opinions based upon my own personal tasting. I am NOT a paid reviewer, and no compensation was given, or expected. I may from time to time choose to do a second review and amend my opinion of a product, should I feel like it and find my review criteria has evolved, or that I’ve found it different at a later date. That said, as I’m unlikely to repurchase anything I thought was less than very good to excellent, it would be by chance or at the request of a distiller who though I rated them very unfairly - BUT even then, whatever you get will always be my honest opinion.